I’ve normally been impressed with Tyler Perry’s storytelling and movies. I’ve watched nearly every Madea play and have seen every film, to include those not featuring Madea. Of all of the movies, “Madea Goes To Jail” was the worst-directed and most confusing one.
The basic plot is that Madea (played by Tyler Perry in all hilarity) is once again in trouble with the law. She has to go before judge Mabelean and, once again, gets a slap on the wrist because she wasn’t read her Miranda Rights upon arrest. Meanwhile, a drug-addicted prostitute named Candy (Keisha Knight Pulliam) is brought before another judge and, lo and behold, is being represented by civil defender Josh Hardaway (Derek Luke) who realizes she’s a woman from his past. He turns the case over to his conniving fiance Linda (Ion Overman). Eventually Madea and Candy meet in jail and Madea helps guide her to personal freedom.
My problem with this movie isn’t the plot; it is all in the execution and direction. It felt like the movie was just slapped together with no sense of respect for continuity. Sure, we know that most Tyler Perry movies are really about Madea’s brashness, the importance of Christ in your life, and moral lessons about pride and self-worth for women. We get that. But that doesn’t mean you can just skip technique and detail in telling a good story for nearly two hours. For instance, it didn’t make sense that Kevin never fully explains to his fiance why he’s taking care of a prostitute. That would NEVER happen. When she runs from her pimp in another scene, she hides in a completely see-through phone booth.
Another problem I had was that scenes just seemed to end too quickly or looked too patched together, especially in the courtroom. It seemed like every other line required a “close-up” delivery from each character…why not pull back the camera abit and let’s feel the tension and chemistry?
The acting was fine throughout most of the movie. Derek Luke was emotional when he was supposed to be, but there were too many scenes where he fell flat with his words. There is a difference between soft-spoken and just soft with a character, and that’s where he fell. Tyler Perry steals every scene, and Keisha Knight Pulliam’s Candy was very believable. It also helped to have Oscar-nom Viola Davis playing the trick-turned-savior. And the seemingly hundreds of cameos were worth watching “Jail” for, namely the conversation between Doctor Phil and Madea.
The saving grace of the DVD is in the extras. It was neat to hear about the use of a real Georgia women’s prison, and “Leroy Law Brown” is David Mann at his best.
I hope that whatever movies Mr. Perry chooses to do in the future have a little more attention to detail. That way, he’ll have better luck winning over more of that cross-over audience he deserves. Two out of Five.